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Superintendent Mary Gibson Scott announced that beginning Saturday, April 28, Baxter's Pinnacle and its southwest descent gully will be closed due to an active peregrine falcon nest. Baxter's Pinnacle is a popular climbing route in Cascade Canyon at Grand Teton National Park.
In 2011, a peregrine falcon pair established a new nest near Baxter's Pinnacle; this is the second year that a closure will be levied to protect both climbers and falcons. As the peregrines reclaim this previous nest area, it is an especially critical time for them; therefore, it is important that climbers comply with the posted public closure.
Peregrines are territorial and aggressive birds especially while nesting and incubating eggs; they become even more protective after their chicks hatch. Baxter's Pinnacle will remain closed until the young birds have fledged or biologists determine there is no longer a risk to either climbers or the falcons. A nearby climb called No Perches Necessary remains open.
The peregrine falcon is among the world's fastest birds, flying at 40-55 mph and diving at more than 200 mph while defending territory or striking prey. This poses a safety risk to climbers who could be knocked off the route and injured.
"Peregrine falcons generally lay their eggs in early May, so this is a crucial time for them as they re-establish this aerie near Baxter's Pinnacle," said Grand Teton National Park Biologist Sue Wolff. "Falcons are sensitive to human disturbance and will abadon a nest to defend their terretory which can lead to nest failure and low reproductive success. We want to keep climbers safe and increase the chances for a successful aerie."
Peregrines were delisted from the endangered species list in 1999, but remain a species of concern in Grand Teton National Park where only three other nesting pairs exist.
Seasonal and temporary closures for wildlife protection are common in Grand Teton to protect both wildlife and park users. Entering a posted wildlife closure is a violation under the code of federal regulations that can result in a citation and fine.